Windows Vista: Roadmap and Purchase Guide

Dennis Faas's picture

Confused about which flavor of Windows Vista is right for you? What about all those upgrade options and Vista add-ons?

Hopefully, this brief guide will help you wade through the confusion.

Windows Vista: A Brief Introduction

If you haven't already heard the buzz, Microsoft will release Windows Vista, it's newest (long awaited) operating system (OS) on January 30, 2007 to consumers.

In a nutshell, Windows Vista boasts a polished graphics display, improved security features, and a slew of extras that make day-to-day life easier. Depending on which version you purchase, Windows Vista retails between $100.00 to $400.00.

Windows Vista: 6 Flavors

For those of you adventurous enough to purchase the new Windows OS, Microsoft has announced 3 methods to buy, upgrade or license multiple copies of Windows Vista once it's released. This will provide customers with more flexibility obtaining the version that meets their needs: Windows anytime upgrade, Windows Vista family discount and Windows marketplace.

Windows Vista is available in 6 versions:

  • Windows Vista Home Basic: for basic home needs such as email and Internet access
  • Windows Vista Home Premium: for the best home computing and entertainment
  • Windows Vista Business: for small and mid-sized organizations
  • Windows Vista Ultimate: for work and entertainment, the most complete edition
  • Windows Vista Enterprise Edition: designed to help global organizations and enterprises with complex IT infrastructures lower IT costs, reduce risk, and stay connected. It also provides higher levels of data protection using hardware-based encryption technology (only available to volume license customers with PCs covered by Microsoft Software Assurance).
  • Windows Vista Starter: not currently scheduled to be available in the United States, Canada, the European Union, Australia, New Zealand, or other high income markets as defined by the World Bank.

Note: Windows Vista Enterprise and Starter editions are not part of Windows Anytime upgrade.

Windows Anytime Upgrade

Windows anytime upgrade is a new option that will allow customers to upgrade their existing edition of Windows Vista to a higher edition by performing an online transaction.

Basically: if a Windows Vista Home user wants to upgrade, all they need to do is click on the Windows Anytime Upgrade option in the start menu, choose the version they want, pay for it online to acquire a new license key and follow the on-screen instruction to complete the upgrade.

Windows Vista DVD: All Versions Available

Microsoft said it will put all of the versions of Vista on one DVD in a packaged form or on a PC if the OS comes pre-installed. Users will get a product activation key that will activate whichever edition of Vista they purchase.

Windows Vista: Detailed Pricing

Windows Vista version upgrades are expected to be available for the following MSRPs: Home Basic to Home Premium ($79); Home Basic to Ultimate ($199); Home Premium to Ultimate ($159); and Business to Ultimate ($139). Windows Anytime Upgrade will coincide with the January 30th availability of Windows Vista in Canada, the U.S., Europe and Japan.

Customers will be able review detailed feature-by-feature information on the different Windows Vista editions so they can decide whether or not to upgrade and which version to choose. More information is available from the Microsoft Anytime Upgrade site.

Downloading Vista, Office 2007, et al via Windows Marketplace

Once officially released, Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007 will be available for direct download in the Windows Marketplace. The following upgrade editions of Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007 will be available:

  • Windows Home Basic
  • Windows Home Premium
  • Windows Vista Business
  • Windows Vista Ultimate
  • Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007
  • Microsoft Office Standard 2007
  • Microsoft Office Professional 2007

The Windows Marketplace is supposed to make it fast and easy to download large programs using digital locker technology. This technology is supposed to combine immediately downloading software with the security features of physical media, such as a DVD. It uses technology to store purchased software and license keys, resumes downloads if they're interrupted, and manages the overall installation process.

32 bit versus 64 bit Vista

The Windows Vista editions that will be offered through the Windows Marketplace will be available in English only, in 32-bit or 64-bit versions. A 64-bit version of Vista will only run on 64-bit capable processors, such as the Athlon 64.

A variety of products that have the Certified for Windows Vista logo, including hardware and software will be available as well. For more information, see the Microsoft Windows Marketplace site.

Windows Vista Family Discount

Windows vista family discount is only available for a limited time. From January 30 through June 30, 2007, North American (U.S. and Canada) customers who purchase retail versions of Windows Vista Ultimate will be able to license 2 additional copies of Vista Home Premium for use on other PCs in their homes at a reduced price of $49.99 each.

Before you complete the order online, you'll need to enter 1 valid full or upgrade Windows Vista Ultimate key to be verified. Once your eligibility is verified, you'll be able to purchase licenses to install Windows Vista Home Premium on 1 or 2 additional computers. For more information see the Microsoft Vista Family Offer site.

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